Ocimum tenuiflorum L.
|Family Name:||Lamiaceae (Labiatae)|
|Synonyms:||Ocimum sanctum, Ocimum tomentosum|
|Common Name:||Holy Basil, Sacred Basil, Tulsi, 圣罗勒, 九层塔|
Ocimum tenuiflorum, also known as Holy Basil, is a perennial herb with softly hairy leaves that are rich in health-promoting antioxidants and flavonoids. When crushed, leaves smell like clove, mint, and Italian basil, and are used as a culinary herb for their spicy and bitter flavour. The plant is sacred to Hindus who place lighted lamps near it during the religious ceremonies of Deepavali, the Festival of Lights.
Classifications and Characteristics
|Plant Division||Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants) (Dicotyledon)|
|Plant Growth Form||Herbaceous Plant|
|Lifespan (in Singapore)||Perennial|
|Mode of Nutrition||Autotrophic|
|Maximum Height||30 cm to 60 cm|
|Native Distribution||Tropical and Subtropical Asia, Queensland|
|Preferred Climate Zone||Tropical, Sub-Tropical / Monsoonal|
|Local Conservation Status||Cryptogenic|
Description and Ethnobotany
|Growth Form||Perennial up to 0.6 m tall with some woody tissue at the stem bases. It has an erect growth form which is highly branched.|
|Foliage||Leaves are broadly elliptical with a slightly toothed leaf margin (1.5-6 cm long, 1-2.5 cm wide). The leaf surface is pubescent (densely covered in short hairs). Crushed leaves emit a musky, slightly minty fragrance. Leaves are arranged in pairs with adjacent pairs perpendicular to one another.|
|Stems||Four-sided stems are purplish and hairy.|
|Flowers||Pink or white flowers are tubular and 2-lipped. Small clusters of 3 flowers are arranged in pairs along a spike-like, racemose inflorescence (8-10 cm long).|
|Fruit||The fruit is composed of 4 tiny, one-seeded nutlets.|
|Associated Fauna||Flowers attracts Small Mason bees and Sweat bees, pollens.|
|Ethnobotanical Uses||Edible Plant Parts : Edible Leaves
Food (Herb and Spice): It is sometimes used as spice, but more commonly used for medicinal purposes. It is used to flavour salads and dishes containing fruit, fish and chicken.
Scientific Evidence of Medicinal Properties
In both pre-clinical and clinical trials, Holy Basil demonstrated anti-diabetic (Godhwani et al., 1987; Agrawal & Singh, 1996), anti-microbial (Mamta et al., 2014; Megalaa et al., 2018), and cholesterol-lowering properties (Rachmawati et al., 2019; Agrawal & Singh, 1996) in animals and people, respectively.
In pre-clinical trials, Holy Basil also showed pain-relieving (Singh & Majumdar, 2008), anti-cancer (Karthikeyan et al., 2008), anti-inflammation (Godhwani et al., 1987), antioxidant (Shetty et al., 2007), and anti-malarial properties (Banyal et al., 2015) in animals.
Traditional Medicinal Uses
Research supports the traditional use of Holy Basil tea brewed from the leaves as a treatment for colds, cough and congestion.
It is important to note that some therapeutic effects from traditional medicinal uses of plants are not currently supported or verified by scientific research.
Cultural / Religious: The Hindus regard this species as sacred and symbolic of loyalty and perfect love. They often plant it in courtyards and temple gardens.
|Desirable Plant Features||Fragrant (Foliage)|
|Landscape Uses||Container Planting|
|Thematic Landscaping||Economic Garden|
Fauna, Pollination and Dispersal
|Fauna Pollination Dispersal Associated Fauna||Bee-Attracting|
Plant Care and Propagation
|Light Preference||Full Sun|
|Water Preference||Moderate Water|
|Rootzone Tolerance||Moist Soils, Well-Drained Soils|
|Mature Foliage Colour(s)||Green|
|Mature Foliage Texture(s)||Velvety / Furry / Tomentose|
|Foliar Type||Simple / Unifoliate|
|Foliar Arrangement Along Stem||Opposite|
|Foliar Attachment to Stem||Petiolate|
|Foliar Shape(s)||Non-Palm Foliage (Elliptical)|
|Foliar Venation||Pinnate / Net|
|Foliar Margin||Serrate / Toothed|
|Foliar Apex - Tip||Acute|
|Typical Foliar Area||Microphyll ( 2.25cm2 - 20.25 cm2 )|
|Leaf Area Index (LAI) for Green Plot Ratio||4.5 (Shrub & Groundcover - Dicot)|
|Flower & Plant Sexuality||Bisexual Flowers|
|Flower Colour(s)||Pink, White|
|Flower Grouping||Cluster / Inflorescence|
|Individual Flower Shape||Tubular|
|Inflorescence Type Remarks||Racemose|
|Flower Size||3 mm|
|Inflorescence Size||9 cm|
Fruit, Seed and Spore
|Mature Fruit Colour(s)||Brown|
|Fruit Classification||Simple Fruit|
|Fruit Type||Indehiscent Dry Fruit , Nut / Nutlet|
Agrawal, P., Rai, V. & Singh, R.B. (1996). Randomized placebo-controlled, single blind trial of holy basil leaves in patients with noninsulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics 34(9): 406–409.
de Guzman, C.C. & Siemonsma, J.S. (1999). Plant Resources of South-East Asia, Spices, vol. 13. Leiden: Backhuys Publishers.
Godhwani, S., Godhwani, J.L. & Vyas, D.S. (1987). Ocimum sanctum: An experimental study evaluating its anti-inflammatory, analgesic and antipyretic activity in animals. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 21(2): 153–163.
Karthikeyan, K., Gunasekaran, P., Ramamurthy, N. & Govindasamy, S. (1999). Anticancer activity of Ocimum sanctum. Pharmaceutical Biology 37(4): 285–290.
Lawton, B.P. (2002) Mints: A Family of Herbs and Ornamentals. USA: Timber Press.
Mamta, K., Gupta, R.P. & Sharma, R. (2014). Biochemical and immunological response of Ocimum sanctum in chickens experimentally infected with Escherichia coli. Indian Journal of Veterinary Pathology 38(2): 98–102.
Megalaa, N., Thirumurugan, K., Kayalvizhi, G., Sajeev, R., Kayalvizhi, E.B., Ramesh, V. & Vargeese, A. (2018). A comparative evaluation of the anticaries efficacy of herbal extracts (Tulsi and Black myrobalans) and sodium fluoride as mouthrinses in children: A randomized controlled trial. Indian Journal of Dental Research 29(6): 760–767.
Rachmawati, N.A., Wasita, B. & Kartikasari, L.R. (2019). Basil leaves (Ocimum sanctum Linn.) extract decreases total cholesterol levels in hypercholesterolemia Sprague Dawley rats model. IOP Conference Series: Materials Science and Engineering 546(6): Article ID 062020.
Shetty, S., Udupa, S. & Udupa, L. (2008). Evaluation of antioxidant and wound healing effects of alcoholic and aqueous extract of Ocimum sanctum Linn in rats. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 5: Article ID 428796.
Singh, S. & Majumdar, D.K. (1995). Analgesic activity of Ocimum sanctum and its possible mechanism of action. International Journal of Pharmacognosy 33(3): 188–192.
|Flora Disclaimer||The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.|